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United Kingdom > East Anglia > Crime, fraud and licensing > Crime: general > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

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  1. Crime: general
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Who Represents Who

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Belmores is a ‘top-quality’ specialist criminal defence firm that ‘achieves brilliant results’. Clients praise the firm’s ‘excellent value and great professional service delivered by reliable and reassuring lawyers’. Simon Nicholls and Dave Foulkes run the boutique practice, which continues to provide duty solicitor coverage but has grown its private criminal defence work at an exponential rate. They act for clients across the UK and increasingly handle high-profile matters including the successful defence of a Durham University student accused of raping a drunken woman. Nicholls is currently defending a case in Exeter Crown Court on behalf of clients accused of stealing ATM machines by using explosives to remove them from banks. The firm also handles cases involving speeding, serious sexual assaults and child pornography.

Birketts LLP has a reputation for successfully defending serious private crime matters for companies and individuals nationwide. It also defends national motor groups, companies and individuals in road transport and traffic crime and is the only Road Haulage Association panel member in East Anglia. Barrister Laura Thomas leads the team. Assisted by barrister Matthew Gowen and solicitor Joanna Kasprzyk, Thomas represented a client arrested initially for assisting his wife’s suicide and subsequently her murder. This complex case involving an extremely ill victim with poor quality of life is now awaiting a decision on prosecution. Senior associate Julie Gowland and associate Philippa Dyer are also recommended.

Fostersruns a tight ship and has a team that always performs well’. The firm has an excellent reputation locally and a caseload that is national in scope. Practice head Chris Brown represented a 17-year-old boy accused of seven offences under the Computer Misuse Act following a cyber-attack on communications company TalkTalk. Higher court advocate Damien Moore has expanded his regulatory practice and last year successfully defended an international drinks manufacturer accused of multiple offences of product mislabelling. He also handled numerous cases for defendants accused of dangerous or careless driving and serious sexual assault. He also sits as a chair of the Police Appeals Disciplinary Tribunal adjudicating upon all forms of police misconduct and poor performance. Debbie Reynolds is also recommended.

Gotelee Solicitors is ‘small and specialist but first rate, showing enormous care and attention to every client in every case; the firm provides a lesson in how things ought to be done’. The ‘very clever, very careful and very observant’ Hugh Rowland is ‘truly excellent at client care’. He defended a client with no previous convictions who had been charged with two counts of GBH with intent following a night out. The case is awaiting retrial. Rowland also secured acquittal for a man accused of indecently assaulting his brother over a ten-year period, and acted for a client convicted of conspiracy to produce a controlled drug in POCA proceedings and on appeal. Howard Catherall is highly recommended for motoring law and transport-related cases.

Hegarty LLP is a ‘very professional and efficient firm that goes the extra mile for its clients’. The firm operates a 24-hour police station callout service, is active in Crown Court litigation and Parole Board hearings, and regularly handles offences of violence, sexual assault, murder, theft and motoring offences. Sarah Dunne leads the team and clients describe her and traffic and prison law expert Julie Murtagh as ‘engaging and committed to doing their best for clients’. Dunne represented a medical professional accused of stealing controlled drugs and acted for a client accused of growing a large crop of cannabis. Martin Newton, who joined from Metcalfe, Copeman & Pettefar, was among the first solicitors to gain higher rights of audience.

Clients are ‘extremely impressed with the knowledge and level of support’ from Hunt & Coombs LLP. The firm has ‘an extremely strong criminal practice and is an outstanding firm in Cambridgeshire’ for serious crime, with ‘lawyers making themselves available at all stages from police station to appeal’. The team, led by the ‘reassuring but realisticSimon Milburn, shows ‘keen attention to detail and willingness to go above and beyond for the client’. The firm has a niche specialism in mental health tribunals and related criminal proceedings, with clients lauding Andrew Cave and mental health law expert Richard Boucher for their experience in such matters; they exhibit ‘a caring attitude rarely seen at other firms’. Cave secured acquittal for a teacher accused of sexual assault by four female students. Barrister Davide Corbino and advocate Mauro Maselli are also recommended.

According to one client, Metcalfe, Copeman & Pettefar is ‘simply one of the best criminal firms, not just in north Norfolk, but the whole of East Anglia’. ‘The firm consistently offers nothing short of outstanding service to every client it represents’, says another. The firm is one of a small handful with a Large Criminal Contract with the Legal Aid Agency. Key figures include higher court advocate Alison Muir, who ‘fearlessly fights for her clients’; Charlotte Winchester, who works predominantly in the Magistrates Court and ‘impresses with her grasp of highly complex evidence and tireless effort’; experienced duty solicitor Ruth Johnson, who is ‘an inspirational solicitor who combines exceptional client care with a court presence that is clearly appreciated by magistrates’; 40-year veteran consultant Tim Bartlam, who is ‘an experienced campaigner who still has the enthusiasm of youth and the passion to make a difference’; and Nigel Taylor, who is among the firm’s many experienced police station representatives. Muir represented a vulnerable youth accused of rape, and defended a historical murder case dating back to 2007.

Greenwoods Solicitors LLP provides ‘City-quality business defence services’ thanks to the highly experienced Kathryn Gilbertson, who also provides a specialist prosecution service to private and public prosecutors not served by the Crown Prosecution Service. Gilbertson, who leads the firm’s regulatory team, prosecuted a private landlord on behalf of Humberside Fire and Rescue Services following a serious fire at a multiple-occupation residence. The defendant was imprisoned and ordered to pay £100,000 in costs. Gilbertson and solicitor Charlotte Murray also prosecute on behalf of the RPSCA in animal cruelty cases.

Leathes Prior handles a wide range of privately funded criminal defence work and is known for its ‘flexible and cost-efficient approach’. Tim Cary is ‘very switched on’ and leads a business regulatory and defence team that is active in Magistrates and Crown Courts all over the UK. Cary also heads the firm’s Traffic Lawyers service, which defends clients accused of motoring offences. Cary and solicitor Tej Thakkar defended a client accused of serious sexual assault involving an unconscious woman and prosecutors declined to take further action following the results of DNA tests.

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